We all have a story to tell and the challenges we face can create the greatest opportunity for change. iConnectEngineers® is on a quest to transform how today’s and future engineers connect, view and share content. The hope is to create an environment where it is possible to unleash an engineer’s mind and spirit for creativity and compassion at every level and become global engineers. The DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World movie is a shining example of engineers coming together to make a positive impact on our world.
When Menzer Pehlivan was 13 years old, she was forced to evacuate her apartment building due to a 7.6 earthquake in Turkey. That experience changed her life forever. It was 1999 and Pehlivan decided she wanted to become a civil engineer and focus on seismic safety. Her teacher at school told her than females could not become engineers. However, her grandfather encouraged her to follow her dreams and said she could do anything she put her mind to in life.
Pehlivan is one of the everyday heroes featured in the recently-released movie DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World. It was produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films (MFF) in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and presented by Bechtel Corporation, the largest civil engineering firm in the United States.
“For the past two decades, people have been itching for a popular film about STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math],” said director Greg MacGillivray. “Teachers, museums and parents are looking for ways to get kids not just exposed to but also really turned on by science and engineering.”
Greg said the goal was to bring something new to that effort and offer a fresh perspective on engineering. “The result was an entertaining, visually spectacular film full of human stories to inspire kids of diverse backgrounds to become the innovators, educators and leaders who will improve the lives of people throughout the 21st century,” said Greg.
The film premiered February 15 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Two days later, museums and theaters across North America began showing DREAM BIG.
“The film is not only a journey through some of engineering’s greatest wonders but equally a tale of human grit, aspiration, compassion and the triumph of human ingenuity over life’s greatest challenges,” said Greg.
Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, the 3D IMAX experience gives an insider view of engineering projects throughout the globe. You’ll visit China’s 127-story Shanghai Tower; watch the Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift in Scotland; and witness Australia’s World Solar Challenge race.
Greg said the project became so big that it has become more than a movie. “It’s also intended to be part of a movement aimed at bringing engineering into the forefront of American culture,” he said.
It is estimated that there are more than 2.4 million STEM jobs that need to be filled by 2018. African-Americans and Latinos currently make up just nine percent of the science and engineering workforce.
Shaun MacGillivray, the producer of DREAM BIG, said the film showcases how cool engineering can be in many different ways. “There were a ton of logistics involved, but it was all worthwhile because we really wanted to emphasize the global nature of engineering, which is vital anywhere and everywhere you go on earth,” said Shaun.
ASCE, the oldest national engineering society in the United States, has worked for years to connect the American public with engineering and attract more women and minorities to the profession. “DREAM BIG: Engineering our World is a monumental achievement for ASCE, our members, and civil engineering as a profession,” said Tom Smith, the executive director of ASCE. “It emphasizes the important work engineers do while inspiring the next generation of children and students to get excited about engineering education and careers.”
Smith said future engineers will be addressing big challenges such as clean water, smart buildings, climate change and sustainable cities. “This means there is a pressing need for lots of young people to bring their fresh ideas,” he said. “We hope many people will be inspired when they see how engineering can take you to different places across the global and how different kinds of people can each make their own individual mark on their communities and the world at large.”
“We see Dream Big as a game-changer in talking about the engineering profession,” said Charlene Wheeless, principal vice president at Bechtel for Global Corporate Affairs. “The film and the follow-on educational experiences will help us all engage the next generation of engineering talent.”
In addition to the film, MFF has additional long-range plans to showcase the engineering field. With the support of ASCE, Bechtel and other partners, the film company has developed plans to introduce a school program with lesson plans for K-12; hands-on engineering activities for museums and outreach; engineering-themed events; and collaborations with ASCE local groups across the nation as well as the Society of Women Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.
“It was important to all of us involved in DREAM BIG that it not just be a good movie, but that it also be woven into the efforts so many of us in the community have been making to engage a wide range of people with hands-on engineering,” said Smith. “By adding terrific resources for teachers, students and the public, the reach can continue beyond the theater.”
Dr. Menzer Pehlivan, the young girl who was devastated by the earthquake so long ago, now has a Ph.D. and is a prominent geotechnical engineer who was recently included on the ASCE’s 2016 list of New Faces of Civil Engineers.
“To us, the film is a kick-off to a campaign that aims to give everyone—children and adults—hands-on engineering experiences,” said Greg. “If there is a 10-year-old girl in the audience thinking ‘I have ideas too,’ we want to not only inspire her but give her a chance to learn more and keep going.”
Image courtesy of Dream Big Film
Stay up-to-date with the latest DREAM BIG news through ASCE News online, the Dream Big website and the Dream Big Facebook page.
Tom Smith of ASCE encourages engineers to get involved in the following ways:
- Work with a museum or science center
- Connect others with a Dream Big program
- Involve your local ASCE group
- Dream Big and ASCE
- Dream Big Fundraising
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